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2023 Achievement Awards Presented by OOC

by Austin Wheelock

From left: Austin Wheelock, OOC executive director; Victoria Furlong, vice president for administration and finance at SUNY Oswego; and Ellen Holst, OOC board president.

Operation Oswego County (OOC) held its 71st annual meeting June 15 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center in Oswego.

Ellen Holst, president of the OOC board of directors, welcomed approximately 135 representatives of businesses, governmenAchiet, education, labor and other ally organizations to the meeting.

Keynote presenter Matthew Serrao, production manager for coating at Felix Schoeller North America, spoke of Felix Schoeller’s current expansion project, as well as its history and how the company has adapted over the past 60 years in Oswego County.

From left: Austin Wheelock, OOC executive director; Matthew Serrao, production manager-coating at Felix Schoeller; Debra Kingsley, human resources manager at Felix Schoeller; Jen Weeks, supply chain manager at Felix Schoeller; Tom Yager, production manager-converting at Felix Schoeller; and Ellen Holst, OOC board president.

Austin M. Wheelock, executive director of OOC, reported that in 2022, projects assisted by OOC and the County of Oswego IDA (COIDA) resulted in the creation or retention of 1,495 jobs with over $447 million in capital investment associated with 38 new, expanded or retained facilities.

Three business organizations, a successful entrepreneur and a long-standing economic development advocate were also honored for significant contributions to economic development and job creation in Oswego County.

• The Ally Award for 2023 was presented to SUNY Oswego in recognition and appreciation of the vision, commitment and leadership exhibited by college for the benefit of the student body and the Oswego County community; for overseeing the Workforce Development Board of Oswego County for 27 years; for spearheading the Micron strategy steering committee; for creating new workforce training programs to meet the needs of industry; for collaborating with Operation Oswego County, Inc. and the County of Oswego on marketing and promotion initiatives; and for being a vital and essential partner in economic development and education in Oswego County.

From left: Austin Wheelock, OOC executive director; Thomas Greco, retired mortgage loan originator of Fulton Savings Bank; and Ellen Holst, OOC board president.

• The Business Excellence Award for 2023 was presented to Felix Schoeller North America in recognition and appreciation for demonstrating outstanding leadership and commitment in operating and expanding the company in Oswego County; for showing resiliency, adaptation and growth in a changing market for specialty paper products; for developing a new line of silicone-coated paper and committing to a major capital investment and job creation project; and for its 60 years of manufacturing excellence in the town of Richland in Oswego County.

• The 2023 Jobs Award was presented to St. Luke Health Services in recognition and appreciation of the significant contribution and economic impact of the organization on the Oswego County economy by providing diverse health care and lifestyle offerings to its resident community; for being the 10th largest private employer in the county with 250 employees; for providing residential nursing and short-stay rehabilitation care at St. Luke; for offering enriched living at Bishop’s Commons; for providing assisted living at St. Francis Commons; and for its 48-year history of outstanding health care in Oswego County.

From left, Austin Wheelock, OOC executive director; Brenden Backus, Kevin Dates and Stephen Dates, co-owners of Lock 1 Distilling Company; and Ellen Holst, OOC board president.

Brenden Backus, Kevin Dates and Stephen Dates received OOC’s 2023 Dee Heckethorn Entrepreneur Award in recognition and appreciation of exceptional entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and dedication to opening the first distillery in Oswego County since prohibition; for establishing Lock 1 Distilling Company, a NYS farm distillery in Phoenix in 2017; for continuously adding new products made with locally sourced ingredients and promoting other local businesses; for receiving 16 awards at several spirits competitions since 2017; and for enhancing the tourism industry in the Village of Phoenix at the gateway to Oswego County.

Thomas Greco was honored with the 2023 Martin Rose Economic Developer Merit Award in recognition and appreciation of his outstanding record of exhibiting leadership, expertise, support and cooperation in advancing economic and community development efforts that have enhanced the business climate and quality of life in Oswego County and in Central New York; for his dedication and commitment to the financial services industry for over 20 years as a mortgage loan originator; for serving on the Operation Oswego County board of directors since 1986; for having been a small business owner and licensed commercial real estate appraiser; and for serving on numerous boards and organizations that are vital to economic development and the quality of life such as the Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, the Central New York Mortgage Bankers Association, the Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors, and the Fulton Kiwanis Club.

The OOC board of directors re-elected board members Shane Broadwell, Broadwell Hospitality; Peter Cullinan, Exelon, retired; William Galloway, Century 21 Galloway Realty; Daniel Murphy, Constellation; Tricia Peter-Clark, ConnextCare; Joseph McConnell, Huhtamaki; Michelle Shatrau, N.E.T. & Die; and, Chena Tucker, Richard S. Shineman Foundation.

The OOC board of directors also elected Diane Benedetto of National Grid for a 2-year term and Brian Heffron of CiTi BOCES for a 1-year term to fill vacancies.

Retiring from the OOC board of directors is Brian Anderson, National Grid, after 11 years of service.

Austin M. Wheelock, Certified economic developer (CEcD), is the executive director of Operation Oswego County, Inc. For more information, call 315-343-1545 or visit